Songbird Singing

If you are an inveterate tweaker of computers, always trying to find a new cool program that will do things better or just differently, if you are not afraid of installing programs that haven’t even reached version 1.0, if you are not totally enamored with iTunes, or if you really love finding new music and new ways of finding new music, then I want to recommend a cool open source program that I recently stumbled upon called Songbird.

Based on the Mozilla architecture, Songbird’s tag-line is “Play Music. Play the Web” and it works as both a regular music player on your desktop, but then, where it really kicks out the jams, is how it handles web pages. Built around browser technology, Songbird includes a built in browser. When you go to a site that has music posted, Songbird automatically creates a songlist of all the songs on that web page, including metadata, and allows you to play them just as you would a playlist on your own computer. Want to save a song to your hard drive? Just drag it to the “Library” folder on the left column and it’s automatically saved. The program has several music blogs already bookmarked so you can instantly check out the “Playing the Web” function which provides a great way to find and listen to new music.

Songbird is in early development and so it’s definitely rough around the edges–it doesn’t respond well to OS X’s Expose or to my pre-programmed minimize command on my mouse, but I have been using it off-and-on for about a week and have no major complaints. I haven’t tested the iPod function as of yet, but may try it this weekend. I certainly plan on keeping Songbird on my system and look forward to its continued development.

Yet with all that, there are two ways in which it beats iTunes hands down. The first is that Songbird just freakin’ sounds better. No fancy audio plugins, no changing of volume, no tweaking in any way and Songbird sounds richer and has more volume. The second is a simple no-brainer, but iTunes just gets it dead wrong. Let’s say you are in your Library’s Music view and are playing “Sons and Daughters” from “The Crane Wife” (The Decemberists). For some reason you stop the song and then switch to one of your playlists. When you go back to your Music, you will not be returned to your last view–in this case The Crane Wife. Instead you are returned to the top of your music library. Songbird returns you to your last view, regardless of how many other playlists you look at or websites you visit. As someone who makes mixes for family and friends, this is a much better design.

Check out my Music page within Songbird and you can groove to the tunes of your humble host. Ok, well groove is probably not the right word. But hey, you can groove to “TechnoDuck” right here on the main page.

If you do end up playing with Songbird, sing us a tune in the comments with your thoughts.

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Worms Turning

Lobbyists Find New Congress is Open for Business Lobbyists who dreaded Democratic control find they’re being heard. by Tom Hamburger and Janet Hook Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi terrified the oil industry late last year when she outlined her priorities for the new Democratic majorities in Congress. Within the first 100 hours, she promised, they would “roll back the multibillion-dollar subsidies for Big Oil.” Last week, however, when Pelosi (D-San Francisco) won House approval of the much-touted bill socking it to the oil companies, it turned out to be considerably less drastic than many in the industry originally feared. Out of an estimated $32 billion in subsidies and tax breaks that the oil companies are scheduled to receive over the next five years, the final House bill cut $5.5 billion. More . . .

Certainly, this is not surprising. Disappointing maybe, but not surprising. Until we find a way to seriously reduce the impact of money on the election process, this kind of thing will continue.

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Superhero Quiz

This doesn’t seem right . . . I’m not really hot-headed and certainly don’t have strong will power. But I guess if the computer says I am Green Lantern than who am I to argue? Now if I could just remember where I left that ring . . .

Your results: You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
Hot-headed. You have strong will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the “Which Superhero am I?” quiz…

Wind Shears

WIND SHEAR, a sudden, drastic change in wind direction or speed over a comparatively short distance. Most winds travel horizontally, as does most wind shear, but under certain conditions, including thunderstorms and strong frontal systems, wind shear will travel in a vertical direction. Microburst wind shear is an extremely violent downward blast of air that hits the earth and radiates outward. With its sharp shifts in wind direction and relative wind speed, it can cause an aircraft to lose lift and crash, especially during takeoff or landing, when the slower speeds and closeness to the ground make altitude correction more difficult. (

I am 36 and have recently gotten off the academic track that I was on for the last eight years. So I took a job as an Office Manager at a non-profit that is doing good things. Despite the fact that I have a history of bouncing back and forth between academia and non-profit office managing. This time would be different, I told myself. This time, I would be able to do the job and leave it behind, set boundaries, make it manageable.

Umm, not quite.

Patterns are the source of life and the source of strife and I backed down from breaking this particular pattern and have been, contrary to how I have presented myself, rather unhappy with this job. Ok, so feeling sick every day that I went to work. Patterns can be incredibly constructive and bring about emergent properties like intelligence, but they can also be traps, grooves worn into our psyches that keep us from freely ranging through our options and our desires. Do I want a career as an office manager/general manager for non-profits like I talked about back in October when I was applying for this job? No.

So what do you want to do when you grow up?

Good question, and one that I can’t quite answer beyond a very generalized “make stuff.” Ok, I can give some more particulars: I want to make plays and music, make ideas into actualities, thoughts into acts of communications, dreams into stories. I want to sound design more theatre because manipulating music and sound is one of the things that I most love doing. I want to write stories and see them on tv and in film. I want to direct plays and possibly direct movies. I want to start a business that serves a purpose. Most of all, I want to face the fears that have kept me from truly shaping my life into the shape that I want, not the shape that seems sensible or safe or that would please other people.

The ride might be bumpy, but I promise, things are about to get a damn sight more interesting.

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